After a win that felt like an escape, Brad Gushue was thinking about bubbles and how to get in one.
The Canadian skip felt lucky to steal a point in the 10th end for an 8-7 win over Italy's Joel Retornaz at the men's world curling championship Monday.
Canada was 3-1 and in contact with frontrunning Niklas Edin of Sweden and Steffen Walstad of Norway both at 4-0.
Gushue was pleased the Orleans Arena ice was quicker and livelier Monday, but the skip felt slow to adapt his reads to the change.
He also felt he, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker haven't been able to establish the same routines they did winning the Canadian championship earlier this month, and the world championship in Edmonton last year.
The arena a short walk from The Orleans hotel means curlers, fans, officials and volunteers continually mix together at the rink, in the hotel and at the pool.
'Hard to get into a routine'
Gushue says his team prefers separation between the event and their down time.
"This whole Vegas thing is, I don't want to say a distraction, but it's hard to get into a routine," Gushue said.
"Here, it's hard to get away from the event because even when we're at the hotel, all the fans are there, we can't get away and we have to find a way to get into a better rhythm.
"I'm certainly going to bring it up amongst the team and see if there's anything we can do to get any more in our bubble. It just doesn't feel normal for our team right now at least from my perspective."
China's Dejia Zou and South Korea's ChangMin Kim were 3-2 while Scotland's Bruce Mouat was 3-1 alongside Canada.
Zou downed Kim 9-4 and the Scots defeated Greg Persinger of the U.S. 7-6 in an extra end.
Russia's Alexey Timofeev was 2-2 and Japan's Go Aoki was 2-3.
Italy and Switzerland's Marc Pfister were tied at 1-3 ahead of Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands at 1-4. The U.S. and Germany's Alexander Baumann were 1-5.
Choosing the hit
The top six teams in the preliminary round advance to playoffs with the top two getting byes to the Saturday's semifinals. Teams three to six square off in the quarterfinals earlier Saturday.
Canada faces South Korea and Japan on Tuesday.
Retornaz beat Gushue 7-6 in an extra end during the preliminary round of the 2006 Olympic Games, although Gushue went on to win the gold medal in Turin, Italy.
Retornaz throws third stones and skips the Italian team in Vegas. Six-foot-six Amos Mosaner, 22, throws fourth rocks with accuracy on big-weight shots.
Instead of drawing the four-foot rings for the win, Mosaner opted to play a double takeout and stick.
He drove the top Canadian stone past another at the back of the four-foot to give up the single point.
Retornaz didn't fault his vice for choosing the hit.
"Most of the time when it comes down to that kind of shot it's better that the thrower has the last word on it," the Italian said. "I can't as a skip say the draw is better than the hit. It must be something you feel.
"He felt like a hit. He's made big hits this season. I wasn't against that shot. Just missed it by nothing."
Gushue wasn't surprised Mosaner opted to hit and felt fortunate he missed.
'He's a world-class hitter'
"He's a world-class hitter," Gushue said. "This feels like house money right now, I guess, being in Vegas."
Gushue squandered a chance to score two in the ninth when his shooter rolled out on an open hit for the deuce.
"Very proud of how the team recovered after I missed the hit in nine," he said. "They made six perfect shots in front of me and fortunately I made two good ones as well and forced him into a tough shot."
Gushue says he and his teammates are throwing accurately, but he's putting the broom down in the wrong spot.
"The ice was a big improvement today. I think I owe it to the icemakers to at least acknowledge that," he said.
"Again, we had to adjust and we're still learning. It kind of felt like the first game of an event again where you're still trying to learn the ice.
"We've got to get a little bit more comfortable. In particular, I do and a little bit more confident."
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